Is Your Bad Breath Trying to Warn You?

We all grew up watching ads about bad breath.

We’ve spent plenty of time breathing into our palms and sniffing, or chewing breath mints.

But bad breath is more than just a social problem. It can be a very real symptom of a very real health problem.

If your breath has turned sour or people are pulling away when you’re a little too close, you may have a problem. It may be a good idea for you to visit your dentist or your doctor.

Bad breath is a real medical condition called halitosis.

It can be a sign of a hidden medical condition. Here are some of the illnesses that it can be a sign of.

1. Stomach Cancer – In the past, endoscopy was the best way to test for stomach cancer. This is a test where a tube is pushed down your throat so your doctor can see what’s there. They may remove tissue for testing. Now a study says a new breath test may be one of the best ways to detect stomach cancer early, before any other symptoms appear.

2. Lung Cancer – Instead of having a biopsy of tissue taken from the lungs, doctors can now use a breath test. An “electronic nose” analyzes breath for compounds that reveal cancer. The test is very accurate: It correctly identified lung cancer in 128 nonsmokers and only got five diagnoses wrong.

3. Heart Failure – By testing breath samples, doctors can identify patients who are in heart failure and other heart conditions. The test checks for molecular and chemical compounds.

4. Diabetes – One of the first signs of trouble for a person with diabetes is when their breath smells like nail polish remover. This is a red flag that their body doesn’t have enough insulin and is using fatty acids for ketones for energy. If this is left untreated, it can lead to coma or death.

5. Kidney Failure – If your breath has a fish smell, or smells like ammonia, it can be a sign of kidney failure. It's a sign that the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste from the blood.

6. Sleep Apnea – Remember the ad about “Morning breath, the worst breath of the day”? Everybody wakes up with bad breath. that’s because when we sleep, bacteria grow in our mouths at night. If you wake up with very bad breath every morning, it may be a sign of sleep apnea.

7. Reflux – Bad breath is often about what we eat, but it can also be about the health of our stomach. People who have acid reflux have problems digesting their food. The first sign of this is the smell of decayed food on their breath.

8. Respiratory Infection – Whether you have a cold, the flu, a sinus infection or bronchitis, the bacteria in your respiratory system can have a very bad smell.

Does Bad Breath Always Mean I'm Sick?

No, of course not. Many of us just have a simple case of bad breath from time to time. Before you get upset or worried about your health, there are some bad breath remedies you can try.

Some of the best and easiest halitosis remedies include:

  • Drink lots of water and swish it around your mouth to take away bacteria
  • Brush your teeth after every meal and remember to floss
  • Brush your tongue too
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly
  • Chew fennel seeds or cloves
  • Chew lemon rind or orange rind
  • Chew parsley or mint

Yours in health,


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